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Recent Changes to Google’s Search Terms Report


Oct. 1, 2020

On September 2nd, Google announced that they would be making an update to the search terms report in Google Ads in order to maintain their “standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data”. Google said that the search terms report will now only include terms that a significant number of users searched for, even if a term received a click. They went on to say that we may now see fewer terms in our report.

Why Should We Care?

It all boils down to the fact that as advertisers we will be paying for impressions and clicks for search queries that we don’t have full visibility over. Typically, advertisers monitor the search terms report very closely so that if we notice that certain keywords are triggering search terms that may not be relevant to our business, we will make modifications to those keywords, or ideally add negative keywords so that those search terms do not come up again, and no further ad spend is wasted. 

By reducing this visibility into “insignificant” search terms, it means that businesses will have less control over their spending. It will be that much harder to optimize campaigns on an ongoing basis. Many PPC experts are chiming in that it is “solely a money grab” 

There is even a petition with 3,875 signatures titled “Give Advertisers the Ability to Opt-Out of Non “Significant” Search Terms in Google Ads.” The goal of the campaign is to request full visibility on what terms we are advertising on. The petition goes on to say that, if we cannot see what a search term is, we do not want to appear for that query, receive that traffic, or pay for that click. If Google chooses to hide data because it thinks it isn’t significant, we as advertisers need the ability to opt out of any non-significant search term clicks.

So What Can We Do About This?

Fortunately, there is one key way where we can get some transparency back. The main one is by using UTM parameters like {lpurl}?matchtype={matchtype}&device={device}&keyword={keyword}) to determine what keywords were used when a user lands on our website. We can then see how these keywords were matched using the landing page report in Google Ads and Analytics.

If we see that our campaigns are driving lots of website traffic but we feel like there might be a bit of a disconnect between clicks and conversions, we can use call tracking to review the quality of leads generated and use the insights from the calls to optimize the campaigns accordingly. We also have a number of paid tools that can help us figure out what kind of search terms might result in potentially high-performing placements.

Our Last Thoughts

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, advertising platforms will continue to modify their services to increase the number of privacy users have over their data. Unfortunately, it is this same data that advertisers use to more effectively convert our clients’ target demographics into paying customers — but all is not lost. Advertisers are a smart bunch. Strategic workarounds are constantly being identified. Working with the team at NVISION, you can trust that we’re constantly on top of these many platform updates as well as the ever-evolving strategies to give your campaigns an edge over competitors.

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